NBA General

The Open Market

Boy, the NBA doesn’t rest, does it? First the NBA Finals, then the Draft, and now free agency is well under way. Not too far after we’ll actually be seeing the younger guys in action in summer leagues, and then only a few months before it all starts over again. But hold your horses. We’re still in the free agency phase, and there’s still a lot of work to do. So here is who’s left, and where I think they’ll be going:Disclaimer: If you were not already aware, Luke Walton and Vince Carter are re-signing with their former teams, and sharp-shooter Jason Kapono will soon be calling Canada his new home.

1. Rashard Lewis- F-Seattle

With a guy named Kevin Durant at his position and with far more upside, it is highly unlikely Lewis will be back in Green. At least not for the SuperSoncis, that is. I’m just teasing. He won’t be in Boston, despite friend and former teammate Ray Allen’s deepest wishes. Look for Rashard to go where the money is. In other words, the Orlando Magic.

2. Chauncey Billups- PG-Detroit

Chauncey has his title, respect, and recognition. Now all he needs is money. Wherever he goes, he provides the experience and savvy to lead a team to a title, so why not cash in while he’s at it? Chauncey is being mentioned as possible upgrade over Mo Williams for Milwaukee, but if Detroit shows him the money, there should be no reason for Billups to leave.

3. Gerald Wallace- G/F-Charlotte

To be honest, the best move for both sides is for Wallace to go somewhere as the penciled in starter, so he can get his money, and Adam Morrison can be a starter. The J-Rich acquisition basically means Wallace has been passed up. Milwaukee, Detroit, Dallas, anbd Miami are the best suitors, and I am leaning toward Milwaukee, simply because Bobby Simmons isn’t the answer at small forward, and the Bucks would benefit most from Wallace’s versatility.

4. Mo Williams- PG-Milwaukee

The Buck’s should only let Mo go if they know they can get Billups, but even if that were the case, I almost think Williams would be the safer bet. He’s much younger and only getting better. Odds are he’ll wind up back in Milwaukee.

5. Grant Hill- G/F-Orlando

Going back to Orlando would be a waste of time for Hill, who isn’t getting any younger or better. His teams of choice right now are anyone who is a title contender and would want to have him playing significant minutes. San Antonio, Dallas, Detroit, and Phoenix all would love his versatility and leadership. But for how much? If Detroit can’t nab Gerald Wallace, a return home for Hill is in the cards.

6. Darko Milicic- F/C-Orlando

It comes down to this: How bad does Orlando want him? Better yet, does anyone else want him? The Magic are trying ever so hard to land Rashard Lewis, and I’m afraid for Darko that that’s exactly what they’re going to do. Milicic might have to settle for less than he’s looking for to stay in Florida, but that is looking very bleak considering he hasn’t even been contacted by Orlando’s front office yet. Verdict: Milicic signs for less.

7. Andres Nocioni- F-Chicago

One of the more underrated free agents out there, Nocioni is the consumate role player with a tenacity you cannot teach. There’s no real reason why he shouldn’t wind up back in Chicago. Letting him go would only hurt this young squad’s development.

8. Steve Blake- PG-Denver

Is he really starting material? The answer would be a definite yes if he hadn’t just spent a year with two of the game’s best scorers. However, if he went to a team such as Atlanta, he might not perform at that high of a level. Either way you look at it, Blake is a true floor general, and will get paid what he is due. He’ll go to one of the teams in L.A., depending on which is least comfortable with their package of young point guards.

9. Jerry Stackhouse- G/F-Dallas

He’s so erratic in the playoffs that he’s a scary prize to win in free agency, but he still packs a punch offensively. One of the title contenders will get him, for sure. My pick is San Antonio. They have a knack for picking up Dallas holder-overs who have at least one good year left in them.

10. Anderson Varejo- PF-Cleveland

He’s pure hustle and energy. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be back in Cleveland.

11. Chris Webber- PF-Detroit

He’s the wild card, but not much of one. He still has a solid offensive game and can provide excellent spark, but he is such a liability on defense that it might not be worth it. Webber will try to latch on with someone contending for the title, but he may be out of luck.

Some other guys to watch out for who are flying under the radar but would be very valuable contributors:

Matt Carroll, Earl Boykins, Desmond Mason, and Michael Pietrus. All will find homes and be effective role players next season.

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